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Lamington National Park

Nick Hill © Queensland Government

Lamington National Park

Ancient forest, spectacular views, exceptional wildlife and natural beauty make this park an outstanding place to explore.

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Lamington's lookouts have breathtaking views.
Lamington's lookouts have breathtaking views. Lightcapturer © Queensland Government
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Park Lamington
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Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area

Spend days exploring this magical part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. Take short walks or long treks deep into the park’s forest, exploring boulder-strewn mountain streams, numerous waterfalls, dramatic lookouts, rugged cliffs, plunging gorges and secluded, mountain-top camp sites.

There is a rich volcanic history under the spreading greenery of the park. Tamborine, Springbrook, Beechmont and Lamington are remnants of the Tweed shield volcano’s northern flank. Mount Warning is all that remains of the volcano’s core and the Tweed Valley is a large erosion caldera carved from the eastern flank.

This park is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, famed for its ongoing geological processes, evolutionary history, and diversity (especially of rare, threatened and endemic species).

It is an important refuge for many animals and home to impressive examples of ancient songbirds. Many plants and animals here are threatened species—relying on the protection of the park for survival.

Keep discovering

Top things to see and do

This bush camp site is hidden in high altitude rainforest.

Lamington's camping areas

See Lamington's bush camps and camping areas.

The West Canungra Creek circuit descends to the tranquil 'Yerralahla' (Blue Pool).

Lamington's journeys

See Lamington's walks.

Be sure to visit the information centre.

Lamington's attractions

See Lamington's day-use areas and lookout.

Getting there and getting around

Getting there

Lamington National Park is 110km south of Brisbane and has two sections—Green Mountains and Binna Burra. The Green Mountains section is on the western side of the Lamington Plateau in an area called O'Reilly. The Binna Burra section encompasses the rest of the park to the east. There is no public transport to the park and getting taxis and ride share operators to pick up from the park can be difficult.

Green Mountains section

From Broadbeach, drive 40km to Canungra via Nerang. From the north, take Pacific Motorway exit 34 to Beenleigh, route 92 to Tamborine, and route 90 to Canungra. The 36km winding, and often narrow, bitumen road from Canungra requires care and takes at least 50min.

Binna Burra section

Allow 70min from Broadbeach. Drive 38km to Beechmont via Nerang. From the north, take Pacific Motorway exit 69 and follow the signs west to Lamington National Park—Binna Burra.

Getting around

Access to some parts of the park is via unsealed roads but accessible to all vehicles. You'll need to turn your vehicle headlights on if travelling early in the morning, and when visibility is poor.

Road conditions

  • The road from Canungra is winding and often narrow. It is unsuitable for vehicles longer than 4m and vehicles towing caravans and trailers.
  • The final 1.8km of the drive along Binna Burra Road is very narrow and winding.
  • See traffic and travel information for road and travel conditions.
  • Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Fuel and supplies

Fuel and supplies are available at Canungra and Nerang. No fuel is available on Lamington Plateau.

Wheelchair access

Camping

Hike in to one of the many bush camp sites scattered throughout the park and along the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk.

  • The bush camp sites are open from 1 February to 30 November each year.
  • Camping permits are required and fees apply. Display the tag with your booking number at your camp site.
  • Read more about camping with care in this park.

See camping areas

Other accommodation

Guided tours and talks

You can join a tour to the park or a guided walk from Binna Burra or Green Mountains.

  • For tourism information for all regions in Queensland, see Queensland.com, and for friendly advice on how to get there, where to stay and what to do, find your closest accredited visitor information centre.

Walking

You can't experience Lamington without heading out on foot on one of the amazing trails. Enjoy a gentle stroll or a challenging, full-day hike into the remoter areas of the park.

Map of walking tracks

Picnicking

Bring your picnic basket and enjoy lunch in the shade at the day-use areas with tables, toilets and barbecues.

Map of picnic tables/facilities

Viewing wildlife

The subtropical rainforest, ancient Antarctic beech trees, hoop pines, eucalypt forest and montane heath support an incredible variety of wildlife.

  • Listen for the whip-cracking call of a male eastern whipbird and the gentler reply from a female.
  • Look for the brilliant red and blue crimson rosellas and green and red Australian king-parrots.
  • Don't miss the brillant black and gold colouring of a regent bowerbird. They are often seen foraging for fruit, insects and spiders in the rainforets.
  • This area is famous for Albert's lyrebird. Look and listen for them along the rainforest tracks in the cooler months. The male's extraordinary song mimics natural and artificial sounds.
  • While out walking, look for shiny black land mullets (large skinks) and carpet pythons basking in the sun.
  • You might see red-necked pademelons in the picnic areas in the early morning and late afternoon.
  • At night, search for brushtail possums.
  • Read more about the wildlife in this park.

When to visit

Opening hours

Lamington National Park is open 24 hours a day.

  • Green Mountains park office is open Monday to Friday from 8.00 am to 3.30 pm (park duties permitting).
  • Binna Burra park office is open Monday to Friday from 7.30 am to 4.00 pm (park duties permitting).
  • Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Seasonal closures

The bush camp sites are only open from 1 February to 30 November each year.

Climate and weather

Lamington National Park has a subtropical climate and is generally 5°C cooler than Brisbane. Extreme winter temperatures can fall below 0°C and frosts can occur. An average of 1600mm of rain falls each year, mostly during the wet season between November and March. The best time to visit is during winter when the drier weather makes views less hazy and the leeches less prevalent.

Permits and fees

Camping permits

Drones

Flying drones in national parks can affect visitors' experience and privacy, disturb wildlife and impact First Nations peoples' cultural heritage. If you choose to use a drone recreationally you must ensure it is operated in a manner that does not cause a nuisance to other park users or interfere with wildlife or cultural heritage, and you must follow all of Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) rules and regulations. You can be fined for breaking the rules. Commercial drone use in Queensland's parks requires a permit—contact the Assessments and Approvals Team via parkaccess@des.qld.gov.au.

Organised events

  • If you are planning a school excursion or organising a group event such as a wedding, fun run or adventure training, you may need an organised event permit. Maximum group sizes and other conditions apply depending on location and activity type.

Pets

Domestic animals are not allowed here.

Staying in touch

Mobile phone coverage

Unreliable. Check with your service provider for more information.

Wi-Fi

Connect to our QldParks wi-fi at the Green Mountains day-use area.

Tourism information

Brochure

Download this brochure and take it with you:

Information provided in this guide is correct at the time of printing. Check park alerts for the latest details.

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland, see Queensland.com, and for friendly advice on how to get there, where to stay and what to do, find your closest accredited visitor information centre.

Be prepared

  • Parks are natural environments and conditions can be unpredictable. You are responsible for your own safety and for looking after the park.
  • Ensure you have warm clothing and wet weather protection as conditions can change rapidly and without warning at any time of the year.
  • Wear sensible footwear—boots or strong shoes.
  • Take a torch and some extra food.
  • Always pack a first-aid kit and first-aid manual. Learn first-aid procedures.
  • The park is popular with day visitors and can be very crowded, especially on weekends and public holidays.
  • Take care to avoid contact with stinging trees.
  • Beware bites and stings. Leeches are common in wetter areas and ticks are also present in the park.
  • Venomous snakes live in the park, so watch for snakes on the path, and wait for them to move away. Never pick up, disturb or try to kill a snake. Carry elastic bandages in case of snakebite, and know the correct first-aid procedure.
  • Read stay safe and visit with care for important general information about safety, caring for parks and essentials to bring when you visit Queensland’s national parks and forests.

Open fires

  • Open fires are not allowed.

Rubbish

  • There are no bins. Take your rubbish with you when you leave.

Drinking water

  • You need to bring your own drinking water.

Camping

  • The bush camp sites are open from 1 February to 30 November every year.
  • Read camp with care for tips on camping safely and camping softly.

Walking

  • Be prepared, even on short walks, and judge your ability and conditions carefully before setting out. Do not expect to be warned of every possible danger.
  • The extremely rugged mountain terrain can be hazardous for inexperienced or poorly prepared walkers.
  • Carry sufficient water and food as well as a first-aid kit.
  • Take care when walking beside the bitumen road especially on busy weekends.
  • Take care near cliff edges, at lookouts, on rocks and near waterfalls, especially in wet weather. Never stand on cliff edges while looking through a camera or binoculars. Many tracks have steep drop-offs beside them, so walk carefully. Keep children under close supervision—a steep drop-off may be just around the corner.
  • Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • Rescue and medical help can be hours away—even by helicopter. Remember that a search and rescue is costly, endangers people's lives and can damage the environment.
  • Leave plenty of time to reach your destination. Do not attempt long walks after midday.
  • If walking at night, please exercise caution and ensure you have sufficient lighting. We do not recommend walking at night.
  • You need to be familiar with the walking track classification system.
  • If you're not sure about your skills and abilities, we recommend that you contact a bushwalking club and join one of their organised walks.
  • You can get guidebooks from specialist camping stores and some bookshops.
  • We recommend you also use a 1:25,000 topographic map.
  • When bush toileting, move well away from camp sites, walking tracks and creeks, and use a trowel to bury waste at least 15cm deep. Bag all personal hygiene products and take them away for appropriate disposal in rubbish bins.
  • Keep to the walking tracks where provided and take care on rocks, as they may be slippery. If you leave the national park's walking track system you are fully responsible for your actions and safety.
  • It's best to only walk in the remote areas of the park during the cooler months—usually April to September.
  • When walking in the remoter sections of the park, we recommend you carry a personal locator beacon (PLB) or similar device.
  • Watch Stop the spread of weeds and pathogens and always use pathogen control stations (see locations on the Binna Burra section map (PDF, 813.8KB) and the Green Mountains section map (PDF, 467.5KB) ).

  • The terrain in the southern part of the park is very steep and has a thick canopy that restricts visibility and makes navigation difficult. Fallen trees and false trails further complicate navigation. You need to have excellent navigational skills and equipment, and allow for a slower walking pace when in this area.
  • Good rock scrambling skills are essential to navigate the trail to Lost World—Creek and Lost World—Saddle remote bush camp sites.
  • Read walk with care for tips on walking safely and walking lightly.

Around water

  • To protect yourself and the environment, we recommend that you stay out of the creeks and waterholes, and away from waterfalls.
  • Never dive or jump into the water as it may be shallow or hide submerged obstructions. Serious injuries have occurred here. Spinal cord injuries such as quadriplegia and paraplegia are some of the serious results from either jumping or diving into creeks. People who have injured their spines through jumping or diving into water often drown.
  • Swimming in Lamington National Park is discouraged.
    • Waterways can be polluted by sunscreens, insect repellents, perfumes and personal hygiene products—harming the pristine aquatic ecosystems and associated wildlife.
    • Swimming negatively impacts the outstanding universal values of the World Heritage area.
    • Disturbing or removing rocks and trampling creek bank vegetation can cause erosion and harm breeding sites for aquatic wildlife.
  • Crossings waterways can be hazardous during and after heavy rain, and should not be attempted when the waterway is in flood.
  • Look out for eels as they may give you a quick, sharp bite.

  • Read water safety for important information about staying safe in and near water and caring for parks.

Restricted access

Egg Rock (Kurraragin) is identified as a significant Aboriginal area under the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 and is a restricted access area (PDF, 138K).

Snake Ridge (PDF, 80K) and East Mount Gipps (PDF, 110K) are restricted access areas for the protection of the endangered eastern bristlebird and Hastings River mouse.

Natural environment

Lamington National Park includes a series of densely forested valleys and ranges rising to more than 1,100m on the crest of the McPherson Range, which marks the New South Wales–Queensland border. The park lies on the southern edge of the Scenic Rim, a chain of mountains stretching from the Gold Coast hinterland to Mount Mistake and is joined by parks, such as the Border Rangers National Park, in New South Wales.

Walking on ancient ground

Lamington's rugged landscapes are the result of tremendous changes to the Earth's surface—changes that are still occurring. The waterfalls, cliff lines and mountain peaks we see today are remnants of an ancient landscape that reaches back into the Earth's history, some 300 million years.

The geological story of the Lamington area started during the Palaeozoic Era (more than 225 million years ago) when the single land mass called 'Pangea' separated into two super continents: Laurasia and Gondwana. The present-day continents of South America, Africa, Australia and Antarctica, along with India, New Zealand, New Guinea, Madagascar, Arabia and other parts of the present Middle East made up Gondwana. (The name ‘Gondwana’ or ‘Forest of the Gonds’ came from an area in Northern India, which in ancient times was home to a people called ‘Gonds’.)

Some 120 million years ago, Gondwana began to break up. The land masses of South America and Africa separated first. Madagascar and India followed. Australia remained attached to Antarctica until about 65 to 70 million years ago, after which it began to move northwards. Small fragments also moved eastwards to form the beginnings of New Zealand and New Caledonia. It has been suggested that at this time the Lamington region would have been at about 50° south, moving northwards (with the rest of the continent) at 5 to 7cm each year.

Later, several large volcanoes were formed as the Australian land mass drifted northwards over a stationary ‘hot spot’ in the mantle deep below the Earth’s crust. Two of these were in the Lamington region, erupting about 20 to 23 million years ago. The Focal Peak shield volcano near Mount Barney was the first but its lavas were later overlapped by flows from a huge volcano centred over present-day Wollumbin (Mount Warning). This Tweed shield volcano erupted numerous times, spewing masses of molten lava onto the surrounding landscape from what is now Lismore in the south, to Tamborine in the north. Most lavas were basalt, which gives deep fertile soils. There were also some flows of rhyolite with layers of ash and boulders, particularly around Binna Burra, which give poorer soils.

When the volcanoes became dormant, water took over. Over time, spectacular waterfalls, deep gorges, distinctive peaks and rugged cliffs were gouged out of the volcanic rock.

Today, the turmoil of this area’s volcanic origins is largely hidden under the spreading greenery. Tamborine, Springbrook, Beechmont and Lamington are remnants of the Tweed shield volcano’s northern flank. The old volcano's core remains at Mount Warning. The Tweed Valley, formed by massive erosion, is a large erosion caldera carved from the eastern flank of the old volcano, and is best seen from vantage points along the Border Track and Ships Stern circuit.

Lamington’s southern cliffs continue into New South Wales in a great circle marking the caldera’s edge. The erosion caldera is the largest and best example of its age in the world and an example of an ongoing geological process significant to the Earth’s history.

Walk back through time

When you take a walk through Lamington's cool, damp rainforests, travel back in time through what remains of ancient Gondwanan forests that once covered the Australian continent. Some of Lamington's plants and animals are survivors of prehistoric times when ferns, then pines, then flowering plants first appeared. These age-old Australians have endured events in geological time that saw dinosaurs and three-quarters of all living species disappear.

To grasp the nature of Gondwana, we must first understand that the Earth's climate was very different during these ancient times. It has been suggested that sea surface temperatures during the Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods (210 to 265 million years ago) at latitudes greater than 60° south (where Australia was at that time) were 18 to 20°C, meaning that the climate was perhaps ‘warm temperate’, with reliable rainfall. Some scientists argue that at these high latitudes, the region would have experienced significant winter darkness of perhaps four months' duration. This in turn has caused debate about the structure of the vegetation communities at that time, with suggestions that ‘rainforest’ as such did not exist, but that the ancestral rainforest species occurred as scattered individuals in a woodland formation.

What appears certain from the fossil record is that this community consisted of Nothofagus, southern conifers (Podocarpus and Araucaria), Ginkoites (primitive seed-bearing trees), cycads and giant horsetails, with ferns, seed ferns (e.g. Dicroidium) and club moss in the understorey. The king fern Todea barbara is a relict of one of the oldest fern families, Osmundaceae, evolving even before Gondwana formed and is found in the narrow, moist Toolona Gorge.

Conditions at the beginning of the Tertiary period (around 65 million years ago)—when Australia was just breaking away from Antarctica—were warm and moist with high rainfall throughout, high temperatures in northern and inland areas and warm conditions in the south. It is suggested that vegetation throughout the continent was more or less continuous subtropical rainforest, with little difference in species composition between the warmer and more temperate zones.

Nothofagus was widespread, as were species of Araucaria, Podocarpus, Dacrydium and species of Myrtaceae and Proteaceae.

The northward movement of the Australian continent resulted in a warming and drying of the climate, and the development of the dry-adapted Australian flora, dominated by acacias and eucalypts. You only have to walk the Daves Creek circuit to see the changes in vegetation. The track passes through several distinctive vegetation types: warm and cool subtropical rainforest along the Border Track; warm temperate rainforest containing many examples of ancient angiosperms, such as coachwood Ceratopetalum apetalum in Nixon Creek's headwaters; and wet sclerophyll forest with giant New England ash Eucalyptus campanulata around the track intersection to the Ships Stern circuit.

The different soils derived from basalt and rhyolite lavas have determined how plant communities are distributed. Rainforest commonly occurs on soils derived from basalt, while rhyolitic soils, which are lower in available plant nutrients, support the open forest and heath at Daves Creek. Many rare and endangered plant species are found in these ecosystems.

The impressive stands of smooth, pink-barked brush box Lophostemon confertus found on the Box Forest circuit also echo Australia's climatic changes. Of interest, similar brush box in other parts of the World Heritage area have been radiocarbon dated at 1,500 years, making these giant trees the oldest ever carbon-dated on Australia's mainland.

Today, Lamington is one of the few places where Nothofagus and Araucaria stand together as a reminder of the ‘golden age’ when the climate was warm and wet, just before conifers were overtaken by the new flowering plants. The Antarctic beech Nothofagus moorei is little different from the flowering plants that flourished 100 million years ago. Almost all of Australia's Antarctic beech forests are in the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, with Lamington their most northerly location. Nothofagus forests were once widespread across the continent and provided a habitat for many animals that have long since disappeared from our landscape. Small pockets of Nothofagus forest and associated communities can be seen in several areas in the park. Walk to Tullawallal from Binna Burra and discover one of the most accessible pockets of Nothofagus forests in the park.

Lamington also protects one of Australia's largest remaining forests of hoop pine, Araucaria cunninghamii, one of the world's oldest conifers. One of the largest intact stands of hoop pine can be seen along the Darlington Range from the Caves circuit or Araucaria lookout.

While animal fossils in the area are scarce, palaeobotanists have continued to study living rainforest plants in the Lamington region to help identify fossil species collected in such apparently unlikely locations as South Australia.

As part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Lamington is an extremely important refuge for many animals. These include several species of earthworm found nowhere else in the world, the beautiful Richmond birdwing butterfly, endangered birds (such as the eastern bristlebird), and mammals, like the spotted-tailed quoll. Lamington plays a vital role in protecting this rich diversity of globally significant wildlife.

The park is home to some impressive examples of songbirds—an ancient group of birds, many of which have melodious calls. Songbirds were originally thought to have evolved in the northern hemisphere, later spreading south. However, recent DNA sampling and finds of fossilised songbird bones (dating back 55 million years at Riversleigh in Queensland) suggest songbird groups evolved in the southern hemisphere and spread north.

You can still see and hear some of these ancient songbirds in Lamington National Park—home to various species recognised for their World Heritage significance. Examples include the satin bowerbird, eastern bristlebird, rufous scrub-bird, red-browed treecreeper and Albert’s lyrebird. While walking along in the rainforest you may be rewarded with glimpses of bowerbirds or hear the mournful cry of the green catbird.

Links with an earlier period in the development of Australia's animals also exist in the invertebrate world. For example, trapdoor spiders of the Gondwanan family Mygalomorphae make their homes in banks along the Border Track, and prehistoric velvet worms or Peripatus can be found scuttling in the leaf litter during wet weather.

Lamington protects about 58 plants and more than 22 animals classed as vulnerable, rare or threatened with extinction. Countless invertebrates and plants, particularly smaller ones, are yet to be discovered. This natural wealth is supported by many different habitats, all crucial in sustaining many of the last remnants of our natural heritage. Without this national park, many more species would have disappeared or be poised on the brink of extinction.

Request a species list to see what plants and animals have been recorded here.

Culture and history

Following their footsteps

First Nations people lived in this area, carefully managing and using its rich natural resources for thousands of years. Known as ‘Woonoongoora’ in the Yugambeh language, the mountains of Lamington National Park are sacred and spiritual, places to be nurtured and respected.

The Yugambeh family groups were identified as the Wangerriburra, Birinburra, Gugingin, Migunberri, Mununjali, Bollongin, Minjungbal and Kombumerri. They shared language, ceremonies, celebrations and economic exchange.

This kinship group used both the open forest and rainforest. Evidence of their occupation has been found in various parts of the park, including the Kweebani (cooking) cave near Binna Burra. It is believed a traditional pathway passed through the southern section of Lamington National Park.

The first European record of the McPherson Ranges was by Logan, Fraser and Cunningham, who saw the rugged mountainous area from Mount Barney's peak in 1828. The first Europeans to traverse the area were surveyors Francis Edward Roberts and Isaiah Rowland. Between 1863 and 1866 they surveyed the Queensland–New South Wales state border along the highest peaks from Point Danger to Wilsons Peak. Bilin Bilin and other Yugambeh people carried equipment and identified trees and animals. Many landmarks were named using traditional Aboriginal words. The Border Track in Lamington National Park follows part of the survey party's original route.

The arrival of Europeans changed the First Nations peoples' lifestyle forever. The newcomers did not understand the foraging needs of these groups even though the natural resources must have seemed vast.

By the 1870s, a battle had developed between those seeking to clear more land and those wanting to preserve valuable areas of southern Queensland's subtropical rainforest. Timber-getters spearheaded the onslaught in the search for cedar—'red gold'. Agriculturalists followed eager to farm the rich soil where rainforests had thrived.

In 1878, the dream of Lamington National Park began, after local identity Robert Collins learned that the world's first national park, Yellowstone in the United States of America, had been declared in 1872. Collins became an expert on the McPherson Ranges and fought for the mountains and their grand forests to be conserved.

By the century's end, most of the red cedar, crows ash and white beech trees had been harvested from the area surrounding what is now Lamington National Park and the coastal lowland rainforest had been destroyed. Fortunately, other forces were gathering and other interests slowly gaining voice. A 20-year battle to conserve the precious rainforest remnants of the McPherson Ranges was underway.

In 1906, the Queensland Parliament passed a State Forest and National Parks Bill, and in 1908, the first Queensland National Park was declared at Witches Falls, Tamborine.

In 1911, Romeo Lahey, a Canungra man, joined the struggle and energetically lobbied, lectured and petitioned for a national park.

A quote from Romeo Lahey's diary as told by Alec Chisholm in an article “The Green Mountains: Queensland’s National Park” in The Sydney Mail, 5 March, 1919, states:

I do not remember my reasoning but the idea of those glorious falls being destroyed by selection higher up filled me with an intense determination to have them kept for people who would love them, but who did not even dream of their existence

Lahey’s joining the campaign was timely as Robert Collins was to die in 1913, aged 70, before his dream for Lamington became reality. It was not until the Labor Government was elected in 1915 that Lamington National Park was finally declared.

Although Lahey favoured ‘Woonoongoora’, the Yugambeh name for a local mountain, the park was named in honour of Queensland Governor Lord Lamington.

Development of the park’s facilities started in earnest as relief work during the late 1930s, with the Border Track and Coomera circuit among the first tracks completed.

Lamington National Park centenary

On 31 July 2015, Lamington National Park celebrated 100 years of conservation. The 21,176ha World Heritage-listed national park is home to 390 species of Australian wildlife and features one of the most diverse areas of vegetation in the country. Visitors can enjoy 130km of walking trails, including many of the original walking tracks that were built in the 1930s.

Lamington National Park is born—the gazettal

Lamington National Park has found a place in the hearts of many that have visited over the last 100 years. The campaign to preserve the resource-rich, mountainous land as national park began in the 1890s with a particularly passionate grazier Robert Collins, who, while travelling overseas, learned about the world's first national park, Yellowstone, in the United States.

… within sight of Brisbane there is a fine area with a climate more equable than any New Zealand town enjoys, volcanic soil of surpassing richness, deep shady forests and scrubs, cool running streams, and splendid, bold mountain scenery.

Robert Collins, 29 Sept 1896

Mr Collins was elected to the Queensland Legislative Assembly in 1896 and campaigned to have the area declared a national park. While New South Wales and Victoria had successfully declared national parks by 1900, many in Queensland still saw the land as a timber supply or potential dairy farm, and opposition remained strong. Attitudes began to shift by 1906 when the Queensland Parliament passed The State Forests and National Parks Act 1906. This led to the state's first national park, Witches Falls (Tamborine Mountain), being declared in March 1908.

In 1911, Romeo Lahey, the engineer son of a Canungra sawmiller, joined the campaign and continued the fight after Collins' death in 1913. Lahey argued that an even larger parcel of land should be protected, and drummed up support from locals with 'lantern lectures' (slide shows) and door-knocking.

In July 1915, 19,035ha of mountainous, forested land was declared Lamington National Park, in honour of the past Queensland Governor Lord Lamington. It was the state's ninth national park, accomplished by a 20-year campaign.

Lahey and Lamington

For Romeo Lahey, the campaign to protect the area that would become Lamington National Park would be a life-long passion that would last long after gazettal. In 1911, while studying an engineering degree at Sydney University, he returned to South East Queensland with a friend, William Potts, and documented their journey up the Coomera River to the border (McPherson Range). The article set in train his concept of a larger national park on the Queensland side of the McPherson Range.

…it is a land of mountains, waterfalls, valleys, rivers, scrubs, forests, magnificent panorama and charming spots teeming with native animals and plant life. Its mountains run up to 4000ft. high, and its waterfalls are not equalled outside the State. Within a five mile radius of the head of the Coomera River, there are fifty falls from 20 to 600ft high, some of them the finest I have ever seen.

RW Lahey 'The Queenslander' 9 Sept. 1911

Later that year, Lahey made his first approach to the Queensland Government for a large national park in a letter to Hon. EH Macartney, Minister for Lands.

This country contains some of the most beautiful country scenery I have ever seen…and culminates in the McPherson range in peaks over 4000ft high, from which an unsurpassed panorama is obtained over NSW and SE Queensland, including Brisbane. It is an ideal place in every way for a National Park… It will make a splendid preserve for game; at present it teems with all forms of native animal and bird life, many forms of which (e.g. lyre bird) are becoming extinct.

RW Lahey Letter to Hon. EH Macartney, 30 June 1911

In 1913, Lahey continued to write letters promoting the area of the McPherson Range for consideration as a national park to the Lands Department and copied letters to the shire councils of Tamborine and Beaudesert and then Premier Hon. DF Denham. He emphasised the economic and national importance of leaving scrub in rough country and articulated the responsibility of his generation in handing down to the next the 'great heritage' that had been handed to them.

I implore you in the name of, and for the sake of generations yet unborn, to vote for the immediate and total reservation of that area.

RW Lahey extract from letters to the Beaudesert and Tamborine Shire Councils, 25 June 1913

The Beaudesert and Tamborine councils responded favourably to the idea, with the Tamborine Council supportive of the whole area being national park while the Beaudesert Council was agreeable to setting aside around 400ha for national park.

When World War I (WWI) broke out in August 1914, focus shifted away from the national park proposition. Undeterred, Lahey continued the campaign and in April 1915 he wrote to the Lands Minister, Hon. James Tolmie about his exploration of the McPherson Range. By May he had used lantern lectures and canvassed residents around the area of the proposed park for signatures on a petition in favour of the national park. He then wrote to the Minister of Lands Department advising that 521 residents of the district, a clear majority, had signed a petition in favour. He included an 11 page letter setting out 10 reasons for reserving the proposed national park; including the health benefits, the economic benefits, and the benefit to flora and fauna species preservation.

The reserve should be set apart for ever for the use and benefit of our people as a whole and not sacrificed to the short-sighted greed of a few.

R.W.Lahey Letter to the Minister of Lands Hon. James Tolmie, 20 May 1915.

Following the state election and the new TJ Ryan Labor Government in May 1915, Lahey appealed to the newly appointed Minister for Lands, Hon. John Hunter, with a letter, photographs and signed petition. Although Lahey favoured Woonoongoora (local mountain), the park was proclaimed on 30 July 1915 and gazetted as Lamington National Park in honour of Lord Lamington.

After the area was proclaimed and gazetted as Lamington National Park, Lahey continued to fight for the national park ideal. In October 1915, he delivered a lecture to the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia Queensland Branch titled 'Some reasons why national parks should be established in Queensland, with special reference to Lamington National Park', and called for other large areas to be reserved as national parks as well as an extension of the state forest system. While enlisted in WWI with the 11th Field Company Engineers AIF, Lahey continued to steer discussion about the park's management, protection of all species, its access and the naming of locations (he suggested Aboriginal words be used as placenames).

There is only one way to “improve” a national park and this is to leave it absolutely alone.

In a letter to Minister for Lands, Hon. John Hunter

Hon. J. Hunter responded:

I could wish that you were here to help with your advice and other ways on this great matter which although to-day is not of much consequence will to come generations be of the greatest moment because the preservation and value of these creations cannot be overestimated. …One thing I am quite determined upon and that is the preservation of the park—an heirloom to the State as nature left it.

By September 1919, Lahey had returned to Australia and was available to act as guide for Mr J Hunter (now Queensland Agent General elect.) on his first visit to Lamington.

Rangers of Lamington

When Lamington National Park was first gazetted in 1915, the park was barely surveyed, and there was no protection against illegal logging and poaching. In July 1918, Lamington National Park was declared a 'reserve for the protection and preservation of native birds and native animals'. In December that year, the Queensland Naturalists explored, collected and recorded the flora and fauna found in the remote wilderness areas of Lamington National Park. New plant species were collected and the name 'Green Mountains' was coined as a result of their visit.

The park remained largely unpatrolled apart from scientists and government surveyors, until early 1919, when the O'Reilly brothers and cousins, along with Mr George Rankin were appointed unpaid honorary rangers under The Native Animals Protection Act 1906. Later that year, Mick O'Reilly was made the first paid park ranger, for £4 a week, an above average wage for the time (the average wage then was about  £3 18s 7d a week (3 pounds and 18 shillings 7 pennies)). Mick O'Reilly had recently returned from the WWI Middle East campaign and was charged with protecting the park boundaries against illegal logging and poaching and eventually commencing the access tracks to scenic locations.

In 1937, the Forestry Sub-Department employed Lamington's first forest ranger, Jack Gresty, and Gus Kouskos was appointed first track sub-foreman. An official full-time national park ranger for South Queensland, George Gentry, had also been appointed. Despite the Great Depression (1929–1939), government funding was approved for construction of tracks and other facilities beginning in July 1937. With the use of relief workers, groups of up to 50 men were employed to build a large portion of the track system, much of which is still open today. It is during this time that the Main Border Track was constructed. Built in two sections— one track crew from O'Reilly's cut their way towards a second track crew working from Binna Burra—the 21.4km Border Track cost £1080 (approx. $90,300 today) and took 17 months to construct.

Construction crews lived in tent-like accommodation, and spent their days clearing trees, shifting large rocks and excavating and benching slopes by hand along the surveyed route.

Many of the techniques, such as rock wall pitching and the construction of stone inverts, are still used in track building and maintenance today.

Lamington timeline

DateEvent

1870

Yellowstone National Park declared in the United States.

1890s

Grazier Robert Collins begins lobbying to preserve the area as national park.

1896

Collins was elected to the Queensland Legislative Assembly where his campaign continued. He presented a paper The South-Eastern Highlands of Queensland to the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia (Qld), expressing his desire for the land to be protected and made available for public use.

1898

Governor of Queensland (from 1896 to 1901) Lord Lamington visits the area for the first time.

1900

New South Wales and Victoria have national parks.

1906

State Forests and National Parks Act 1906 passed in Queensland Parliament.

1908

Witches Falls becomes the first national park in Queensland, followed by Bunya Mountains later that year.

1911

Romeo Lahey, the engineer son of a Canungra saw miller, joins the campaign, and proposes that an even larger area to be protected, and petitions the government, holds public ‘lantern lectures’ (slide shows) and collects signatures through door knocking.

The O’Reilly family takes up their selections in the area then known as Roberts Plateau—later renamed Green Mountains.

George Rankin takes up a selection at the area now known as Binna Burra—now the location of Binna Burra Mountain Lodge.

1913

Collins dies.

1915

Lamington is declared a national park.

1918

In July, the park is officially proclaimed a 'Reserve for the protection and preservation of Native Birds and Native Animals'.

In December, the Queensland Naturalists explored, collected and recorded the flora and fauna found in the remote wilderness areas of Lamington National Park. New plant species were collected and the name ‘Green Mountains’ was coined as a result of their visit.

1919

First official paid ranger, or ‘working overseer’ Mick O’Reilly appointed, with his brothers acting as unpaid ‘honorary rangers’.

1926

O’Reilly family opened the Guest House, which is now known as O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.

1930s

Initial walking tracks were constructed in the 1930s by Romeo Lahey, Arthur Groom, the O’Reillys (Mick and brothers) and others during the establishment of the Binna Burra and O’Reilly guesthouses.

1936

1st Ranger for South East Queensland appointed (George Gentry).

1937

Lamington’s first Forest Ranger, Jack Gresty and Gus Kouskos are appointed first track sub-foreman.

1938

The Main Border Track is opened by the Director of Forests, Mr P. Victor Grenning, in a ceremony held at Mount Wanungara.

1941

Ces Loveday takes over from Jack Gresty as overseer in charge of Lamington National Park.

1946

Gus Kouskos returns from war service and replaces the retiring Ces Loveday as overseer in charge. While George Gentry retires as Ranger in Charge South East Queensland and is replaced by Jack Gresty.

1953

Arthur Groom dies.

1957

Director of Forests Mr P. V Grenning unveils Arthur Groom monument at Binna Burra sponsored by NPAQ and his many friends.

1960

Romeo Lahey awarded MBE for services to National Park development in Australia.

1966

Gus Kuskous dies suddenly of a heart attack on the job in the Numinbah Valley.

1967

Romeo Lahey memorial on Lamington National Park Road unveiled by then Queensland Premier G. Nicklin.

1968

Lahey dies.

1975

Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service is formed and now manages Lamington National Park.

1994

Lamington declared part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area.

2014

The new Python Rock lookout opens and the Lamington 100 website is launched.

The historic locations of the Morans Creek Cairn and the Queensland Naturalists’ Cairn are opened, along with a refurbished old Foresters hut, as part of successful Friends of Parks programs.

2015

100th birthday celebrations.

Lamington today

Today, Lamington is the second-largest national park on the Scenic Rim, and is internationally renowned for its ecological importance and inherent beauty.

In 1994, Lamington was world heritage-listed and is now part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area that was previously known as the Central Eastern Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area.

QPWS rangers continue the role of protecting and presenting this world heritage-listed park while managing increased visitation and the demand on facilities and park infrastructure.

References

  • Jarrott, JK 1990, History of Lamington National Park, Beaudesert Times Pty Ltd, Beaudesert Qld.
  • Hutley, L (ed) 2006, A Guide to Lamington National Park, Envirobook, Canterbury NSW.
Last updated: 05 May 2020
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